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Posts Tagged ‘basil’

Herbs I’ve Grown and Loved

 

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Growing favorite herbs in the herb garden for cooking

I started growing herbs when my Aunt Pearl, who lives in Georgia and is also a gardener, gave me a large pot planted with herbs. I’ve been growing them ever since. I like to mix them in among other perennials, although I have had beds with just herbs in them. Herbs are so easy to grow and since you need to keep pinching them back to make the plant fuller and to prevent blooming, you have plenty to use in cooking and you’ll have plenty to share, since it really is good for the plant to get pinched back. In most cases it would be hard to use that much of any herb. When I prune them back I put the clippings I’m not going to use in a basket on my kitchen counter. The smell is wonderful.

Put the ones you are planning on using in a glass with water in the fridge and they will stay fresh until  you need them. When using fresh herbs in recipes you’ll need to use a larger amount (about 2-3 times as much) because measurements are usually for dried herbs, which have much less volume. Fresh herbs make such a difference in foods. For example, potato salad is a whole different dish when prepared with fresh oregano, thyme, parsley and chives. The flavors are so fresh and wonderful.

Some can be grown from seeds and some can’t. Some can be dried and used, some frozen. If you’re interested in planting herbs, now is a good time for planting the hardy ones. Depending on where you live, Rosemary is iffy, and basil surely can’t take the cold but most others are pretty hardy. I’ll talk more about herbs later, but for now you really should consider herbs for your garden. You’ll fall in love.

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by Eliza Osborn

 

 

Herbs In The Garden

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Agastache - Anyse-hyssop

I grow at least 31 different herbs, but I don’t have an “herb garden”. Herbs are usually very hardy plants, that also happen to be edible, medicinal or aromatic…maybe even all three. Most of them are beautiful, foliage and flowers. They blend well with other, more ornamental, plants. So I enjoy mixing them in throughout all of my flower beds. I do keep the culinary herbs a little closer though, like right off the deck, close to the kitchen. I’ve had an “herb garden” before, and it can be very handy  to just run out and grab a handful of whatever you need. Now, though, I’ve scattered other perennials among them and they are still very handy.

Some herbs can get quite large and take up a lot of space, like the hyssop or the lemon balm, while others are small and compact, like the oregano and  thyme, and just kind of creep along among other plants.

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Lavendar

Sometimes it might seem like herbs are a little mysterious or maybe difficult to grow. Nothing could be further from the truth. Whether you plant seeds (which I do a lot) or plant seedlings, you will probably have great success. Some herbs are so easy to grow that you might wish you weren’t so successful. Any of the mints will spread like wildfire and need to either be grown only in containers or in restricted areas. I love mint, especially chocolate mint, but I’ve learned the hard way that it can easily become a weed that smells very good when you’re pulling great handfuls of it out of your flower beds.

If you have well drained soil, plenty of sun and a little moisture, you can grow just about any herb you’d like. Most of them don’t even need especially fertile soil. Mulching helps keep the weeds down and will eventually break down to enrich the soil. If you can control the weeds early on, then soon the mature, spreading plants will choke them out naturally. Most herbs are perennial, meaning they’ll come back year after year.

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Dill

Many of the culinary herbs do well with pinching back, or pruning, so using them is a plus. Never remove more than 1/3 of the plant at a time though. As you pinch them back, they will become fuller and more attractive.

Cooking with herbs is a lot of fun. Be experimental and try different combinations. Have  you ever had potato salad made with fresh thyme, oregano and chives? Delicious.

I  grow a lot of aromatic herbs too (See post: The Aromatic Garden http://wp.me/p1OXDF-8d) just because I love them.  See also Ezine Article: http://ezinearticles.com/?8-Great-Plants-For-an-Aromatic-Garden&id=6582569

Some of my favorite culinary herbs are:

  • Tarragon – slight licorice flavor – used for cooking, vinegars and teas
  • Salad Burnet – cucumber flavor – used in salads
  • Chives – mild onion flavor – used in cooking and as garnish
  • Oregano – used in cooking
  • Sage – used in cooking
  • Basil – used in cooking and condiments
  • Thyme – used in cooking
  • Marjoram – used in cooking
  • Parsley – used in cooking and as garnish
  • Lemon Thyme – used in cooking

Some of my favorite aromatic herbs are:

  • Scented Pelargoniums – Lemon/Rose, Rose, Coconut, Green Apple, Lemon/Lime
  • Agastache Anise Hyssop – hard to describe, heavenly scent
  • Lavender – everybody knows what Lavender smells like…right?
  • Mint – also used for culinary by some – Chocolate Mint, Spearmint, Peppermint, Pineapple Mint, etc.
  • Plectranthus – hard to describe smell that I love (kind of like antique wood)
  • Artemesia – nice, clean smell
  • Helichrysum – fresh, straw-like smell

This winter, when  you’re planning your garden for next spring, think about incorporating some herbs in with the perennials or even with the vegetables. A whole new world will be opened to  you.

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Spearmint

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Purple Sage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Feverfew and roses

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Thyme

How to Grow Basil Through The Winter

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Potted Basil

I’ve just had a question come up about basil and if it will make it through the winter. Well that is a ‘yes’ and ‘no’ kind of deal.

Unless you live in the tropics, it won’t survive the winter outside. The first cold snap will turn it black. But…

bring it into your warm cozy home and it will do very well IF it has enough sunlight. Since all you need is a few leaves to flavor most dishes, this could be a great move on your part, to have basil at your finger tips all winter. Keeping it pinched back will keep it from getting too leggy and you’ll have basil to use. If it tends to keep getting leggy that is a very good indication it needs more light.

If you can get it through the winter then you will have a head start next spring because the roots will be ready to take off and grow and you’ll have mature basil much faster. Just a note about basil (and most other culinary herbs), keep the tops pinched out as it will make the plant fuller and keep it from blooming. You don’t want it to bloom but if it does just pinch them off.

Even if you have basil in a large planter you can still transplant it into a smaller container to bring in. If you plan to do that then go ahead and cut it back by about 1/3 so it will have time to recover before you transplant it. Be sure to get as many of the roots as possible as it will make it much easier for the plant to survive. Water it during the winter but be careful not to over-water. That is probably the number one cause of houseplants not thriving or not even living.

So give it a try, it will surely die outside in the cold, so what have you got to lose?

If you are unable to bring your basil in and want to harvest it before the cold gets it, here is a really good way to preserve that basil flavor in a way that will be convenient all during the year. You can make a large batch of pesto and freeze it in small (or tiny) ice cube trays. Then pop them out of the trays and put in zip bags and store in the freezer to use all winter long. Use it in salad dressings, on toasted French bread, or on cooked pasta. It’s a great way to enjoy your basil for a long time.

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by Eliza Osborn

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